Let's take an obvious example: let's say I have an encounter with the divine presence. I call this encounter "God." So long as I'm alive, I can monitor the use or misuse of the word, i.e., "exactly!" or "no, that's not what I meant!"
More generally, the higher up vertical food chain, the more language becomes... problematic, or at least we must be as precise as possible, because the chances of misunderstanding -- or miscommunication -- tend to increase.
Empirical and rational knowledge are easy enough to pass along -- or at least they used to be before the left began undermining these as well. The founding principle of the left is an attack on the Logos, and this attack is by no means limited to the religious sphere, rather, to the very possibility of knowledge and knowing, of intelligence and intelligibility. Or just say relativism. Which is a kind of crucifixion of the Word.
Time out for aphoristic back-up:
The left is a lexicographical tactic more than an ideological strategy.
A lexicon of ten words is sufficient for the Marxist to explain history.
True, but progressives have made significant progress with regard to the latter. They've got it down to one word: racist!
Reality is indeed pretty simple for the flatlander who confines himself to the horizontal world. Take even one step out, though, and things become more complex, ambiguous, and nuanced. Virtually nothing is what it appears to be.
To put it another way, to recognize verticality is to put a space between appearances and reality. But there's a twist, for the space is the reality: as Voegelin puts it, it is "penultimately ultimate." It is always in movement, and yet, it has an axis, a center, and a telos, otherwise it couldn't exist; it would be ultimate and we would be God.
Now, what -- or who -- is the center, axis, and telos? Yes, one way or another, it is you. So it comes down to defining what You is. In other words, exactly what is the human subject? What is its ontological status? You might be tempted to say it is wholly contingent, meaningless, and unimportant. But if it's unimportant, then why should we take seriously a word it says?
A word it says. It says words. Who said? I said. Who said I? God did. Weren't you listening? He said I AM. I AM is prior to IT IS. The converse is strictly impossible. No one will ever explain how objects can turn into subjects, how stones can become bread, how blood can come from a turnip, or how information can come from non-information.
This is hopeless. This post is all over the place. I started writing it yesterday, and I can't relocate the place it was coming from. But while looking, I found this one from a thousand posts ago, lightly edited:
If you don't know human history, then you're like a man with amnesia, right? Or worse, like Obama, which proves that leaders who don't know our history condemn us to relive the bad parts.
But what if you don't know your prehistory? Actually, we all implicitly know our prehistory, since we are evidently -- if evolutionary psychologists are correct -- doomed (or privileged, depending) to repeat it. We know it by way of our "instinctive" actions, inclinations, preferences, institutions, etc.
As alluded to yesterday, it is possible that we are all related to a single tribe of common ancestors that split from Africa 50,000 years ago. And who knows, maybe that tribe included a couple of elders we know of as Adam and Eve.
Whatever the case, their descendants have been wandering in the bewilderness ever since, adapting to novel environments quite different from what they would have encountered in Africa.
A group of hunter-gatherers can only sustain about 100 to 150 people before it spins off into another sitcom: "Those migrating eastward faced new environments" and "would have had to relearn how to survive in each new habitat" (Wade).
The first wave of migration was into more friendly and familiar latitudes, but humans eventually pressed northward into Europe, where "the problems of keeping warm and finding sustenance during the winter months were severe." Note that this was before the present period of comfy global warming that began some 10,000 years ago, so environmental pressures would have been exceptionally harsh: like natural selection, only worse.
Interestingly, there was also the matter of confronting the protohumans of a previous wave of migration, e.g., Neanderthals. These primitive Homos were apparently the residue of a group that had split from Africa some 500,000 years before, meaning they had been evolving independently of the new wave -- which is our wave.
Now that I think about it, it's almost like a premature birth, isn't it? Their timing was just a little bit off -- okay, half a billion years off -- so they weren't quite ready to leave the womb of Mother Africa, not yet fully half-baked humans.
Could the story of Cain and Abel be an archetypal recollection of our genocide of these distant cousins? Whatever the case, the world wasn't big enough for two kinds of humans, so Neanderthals "disappeared about the time that modern humans entered their territories."
Next time some leftist clown blames us for what happened to Native Americans or some other victim group, remind him of what we all did to the Neanderthals. End the occupation! Of the world.
In any event, once these different human groups were situated in their unique environments, "each little population started to accumulate its own set of mutations in addition to those inherited from the common ancestral population."
So, as I wrote in a comment yesterday, it is as if there is a common genetic clay that is further tweaked by unique circumstances. If the human clay didn't have this shape-shifting potential, then we'd all still be in Africa. Anyone who attempted to leave would have simply died out like a palm tree trying to live in Alaska, or like a professor trying to survive outside the artificial hothouse environment of academia.
Which leads to the question: how much of the human genome is shared, how much unique to particular groups/races? This is difficult to assess, but Wade suggests that perhaps 14% of the genome would have been subject to recent selective pressures and local adaptations. He also mentions that an analysis of the genomes of 2,000 African Americans "found that 22% of their DNA came from European ancestors and the rest from African groups..."
Another big leap occurs with the transition from the hunter-gatherer lifestyle to permanent settlements around 15,000 years ago. This required a major rewiring, not so much for exterior circumstances as interior -- i.e., psychic -- ones.
Living in much more population-dense communities obviously required vastly more subtle and wide-ranging interpersonal skills, diminished aggression, delayed gratification, and a hierarchical instead of purely horizontal group organization. Are we to believe that such dramatic phenotypic changes influenced, and were under the influence of, no genotypic changes?
Indeed, fossil records show that there is a gradual thinning of our bones at this time, implying that we didn't require such heavy skeletal underarmor for the constant head-bashing: "humans shed bone mass because extreme aggressivity no longer carried the same survival advantages."
Those New Guineans mentioned in yesterday's post didn't have to remember their prehistory, because they were still living in prehistory, "using Stone Age technology and embroiled in endemic warfare." If those are the new Guineans, imagine the old ones.
It would be an interesting experiment to adopt one of those New Guinean babies and see how he does in modern society. Would he be under no genetic constraints whatsoever? That would be a rather extreme position, but if true, then Wade's ideas would pretty much be out the window.
In the Coonifesto there is a wise crack by Norbert Elias to the effect that
"It seems as if grown-up people, in thinking about their origins, involuntarily lose sight of the fact that they themselves and all adults came into the world as little children. Over and over again, in the scientific myths of origin no less than religious ones, they feel impelled to imagine: In the beginning was a single human being, who was an adult" (emphasis mine).
Well, Wade has another headslapper by Elias, that "Many people seem to have the unspoken opinion that 'What happened in the twelfth, fifteenth or eighteenth centuries is past -- what has it to do with me?' In reality, though, the contemporary problems of a group are crucially influenced by earlier fortunes, by their beginningless development."
So, it is as if there is a personal prehistory in the form of a preverbal infancy etched into our neurology, and a collective one etched into our genome.